I wasn’t sure. It reminded me of something. I couldn’t remember what, but it wasn’t unpleasant, and, surprisingly, a small smile crept across my face. I nodded, and felt him take my hand. “Follow me,” he said. I stumbled over the blanket at my feet, and wandered with him. He sat me down on the bed, and sat gently next to me.
“Can I have my blanket?” I asked, “I’m getting really cold.”
“Just a little longer,” he replied, tracing a finger around my chest. “I always loved it when you took your shirt off.”
My muscles tensed. Things began to click. Thoughts began to fly. Everything began to make sense: that voice, the intimacy, the whispering in the ear, the thing that, until that moment, had kept me calm. Tears welled up inexplicably, saturating the silk over my eyes.
“Ben,” I said, hoping it was him, and at the same time praying it wasn’t.
Silence again; a more painful silence, the kind that awkwardly verifies the truth. I shivered again, maybe from the cold, more from the fact that he was here again, that I had been in his arms, that, for a moment, we were what we had been. He got up off the bed and began pacing. I hadn’t removed the blindfold, but there was always this feeling of agitation in the air when he did.
“I never meant to leave you,” he said. His voice was low; it was breaking as thought he was trying to hold back sobs.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know what happened. I didn’t want it to happen. Life was good. I was happy. I had you…”
They were the words I had always wanted to hear. They were the answers to the questions I had asked myself, over and over, every day after he had left. But this was wrong. How could he have been there? Why was he saying these things now, now that it was over? I had to see him. I had to look at him, to understand what was happening. The only way I ever really understood him was through his eyes.
I reached for the blindfold, but felt his hand keep mine away. The chill was severe. A feeling like frost swept over my body, and I tried to pull away, but his grip was firm.
“Please,” he said. There was something in his voice, a begging like none I’d ever heard before. “I can’t let you see me, not like this.”
“I just can’t!”
More than anything, the pleading and the alarm in his voice scared me. I had never before then heard anyone beg for anything so desperately. It only sparked more concern, a greater need to see him, to hold him like I used to, and to comfort him. I reached for the blindfold again, and again his hand tried to stop me. I resisted. Since he had come into the room, there had been this need to see him, this temptation that I had been fighting. I couldn’t do it anymore. I fought his hold, grasping a hold of the blindfold and pulling.
I sat up in the bed, the blankets falling forward. I was drenched with sweat, so much that my sheets had been soaked through. I threw the covers off the rest of my body. The room was lukewarm. I looked over at my clock, and still saw the blinking red 12:00. I turned toward the window, which was closed, the snow gently falling outside. The beginnings of a sunrise were creeping into the horizon, and the snow fell gray in the pseudo-light.
I was breathing heavily. My pulse was racing. I sat for a moment, trying to collect my thoughts and my breathing. What just happened? It was too real. No one knew how to make me feel that way. No one but Ben. But Ben had been gone for years. When he died, I was devastated. I didn’t talk to anyone for a year. It wasn’t until the funeral that anyone really knew how much I loved him, how much he loved me. I never saw him after that last night, that last time he kissed me goodnight and told me that he loved me. His coffin was closed at the funeral, and no one would tell me why.
I can’t let you see me, not like this.
What had he done to himself?
I started to cry. I had no perception of what was real, and what wasn’t. All I knew that that I couldn’t handle the emotion. I couldn’t handle being able to have him near me again for a moment. Couldn’t handle knowing that I ruined one last goodbye. From somewhere, a breeze brushed at the tears running down my cheek. It felt like a touch. I looked up, hoping that he would be there, but there was nothing. For a moment, out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone in a mirror. As I turned my head to look, it began to disappear. But not before I saw him.
He stood there, staring back at me, with sorrow. He looked like himself, like the beautiful boy that I loved. There was nothing wrong, nothing that made him look hideous or horrible. As he faded into nothingness, he spoke to me one last time. He said something I’ll never understand: “I’ll never be beautiful enough to deserve your love.” All I could do was sit on my bed, staring at myself in the mirror with tears in my eyes.